Power outages take toll on public patience, businesses

A hotel in downtown Iloilo City signs on its door saying it is fully booked after residents sought refuge from the 3-day blackout that exacerbated the sweltering summer heat. (Joseph B.A. Marzan)

By Jennifer P. Rendon and John Noel E. Herrera

Under the sweltering heat, a one-hour blackout might be too difficult to handle for some. How about if it went on for 12 straight hours and, perhaps, even more? What if it happened for three days already?

The power outages that hit the entire Western Visayas since Thursday, April 27, irked the public and affected business operations in the region.

In Facebook posts, several people stressed how the total blackout affected their work and studies, while some complained about going through days of sweltering weather.

“Kamo na lang guro ubra thesis namon NGCP kag ILECO, collab kamo kang Globe kag Smart,” Gerald Mangaoang, a graduating Architecture student, posted on his Facebook account.

“Feeling ko ang NGCP na lang ni matapos thesis, iec kag portfolio ko,” Anne Monsale added.

Some pictures of people placing blankets and sleeping outside their houses also circulated online, while others decided to check-in to hotels as they could not tolerate the hot weather.

“Yawan kami ja kapamaypay kag ang lamok grabe. Ja na lang kami sa sagwa anay nagbatang-batang. Kaawat gid kang brownout,” Albert Estano said.

Small businesses were also affected as they were forced to close early due to power outages and consumers opted to go to malls and other big establishments for convenience purposes.

“Alas tres pa lang, dapat may mga gakaon pa man na di tani sa amon, pero subong waay gid kay kainit, mas didto sila subong sa malls gatambay,” “Jean”, a carinderia owner in Molo district said.

“Ay nagsarado na lang kami ja, darwa gid gani kaadlaw kay patay-siga ang kuryente. Di mapaktan, maraha kaw, basi mapan-os lang man,” Telma Eneres said.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Trenas, in a Facebook post, also said that the unannounced power interruptions “are causing havoc to the economy of the city.”

“Businesses are affected and even government offices are closed due to the extreme heat. NGCP should explain why these brownouts are happening and what they are doing to prevent the same,” Trenas added.

The Iloilo City Business Development Council (ICBDC) called for immediate action to address the issue of brownouts which are significantly impacting businesses in the city.

“These disruptions in power supply have resulted in operational challenges, financial losses, and a tarnished reputation for our city as a reliable business destination. As such, it is imperative that we join forces to tackle the issue head-on,” ICDBC co-chairperson Terence Uygongco said.

The council proposed the following actions to address the problem:

  1. Identification of Root Causes: We will conduct a comprehensive investigation to determine the underlying reasons for the frequent brownouts. This analysis will enable us to develop targeted and effective solutions to prevent future occurrences.
  2. Collaboration with Stakeholders: We will actively engage in dialogue with power suppliers, businesses, and relevant government agencies. By fostering collaboration and sharing expertise, we aim to explore and implement strategies that enhance infrastructure, promote energy efficiency, and establish robust contingency plans to mitigate the impact of brownouts.
  3. Advocacy for Policy Changes: We will work closely with local policymakers and regulatory bodies to advocate for policy changes that prioritize a reliable and affordable power supply. This includes streamlining licensing procedures for power generation projects, encouraging private sector investments, and fostering healthy competition within the power sector.

“The Iloilo City Business Development Council emphasizes the urgency of this matter and urges all stakeholders to actively participate in our efforts to find immediate and lasting solutions. We firmly believe that by working together, we can create a resilient and conducive business environment that ensures the sustained growth and success of Iloilo City,” Uygongco said.

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said that a system disturbance caused power outages across the region last April 27, 2023.

On April 28, another blackout was experienced in the region as NGCP monitored another system disturbance that affected the Visayas grid.

Initial findings at that time showed that a distribution utility-owned line tripped and caused power plants to disengage or disconnect from the transmission system.

Local leaders also stepped up, calling the attention of NGCP and different power distributors in the region.

Trenas, together with Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr., and Uswag Ilonggo Party-list Rep. Jojo Ang called for a virtual meeting with a representative from the Department of Energy (DOE), and different power sector players on Saturday, April 29 to talk about the power outages in the Panay and Guimaras islands.

Iloilo City Rep. Julienne “Jam-jam” Baronda said she will file a resolution seeking a House inquiry into the consecutive power blackouts that hit Western Visayas.

“I will file a resolution on May 2, 2023, calling for a congressional inquiry into the total blackout that has affected Panay Island for two consecutive days now. We will ask the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) and other relevant agencies to explain,” Baronda said.

Trenas, on the other hand, stressed that he would consider placing Iloilo City in a calamity status amid a looming power crisis.

“I will assess together with my team the power situation in the city tomorrow (April 30). If it remains to be problematic without any solution in sight, I will consider placing the city under a state of calamity due to the power situation, upon the recommendation of the team,” he said.



On Sunday, April 30, 2023, three distribution utilities in Iloilo province (ILECO I, II, III) noted that they have already restored power in their respective service areas.

ILECO I said that it had already fully energized its franchise area in southern and south-central Iloilo as of 12:30 am, while ILECO II and III reported that they had restored power in central and northern Iloilo as of 3 a.m. and 2:06 a.m., respectively.

For Iloilo City, MORE Power said that they have completed the restoration of all feeder levels affected by the manual load drop in the Visayas grid of NGCP due to supply deficiency.

The NGCP had committed to restoring power to the islands of Panay and Guimaras “on or before 12:00 noon” on Sunday, April 30, according to Rep. Ang.


The series of power outages started at 1:51 p.m. on April 27.

From 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. Thursday, the NGCP said that the Visayas grid status is on yellow alert.

A yellow alert is issued when the operating margin is insufficient to meet the transmission grid’s regulating and contingency requirements. However, this does not necessarily lead to outages.

From 6 p.m. until 7 p.m., NGCP declared a red alert status on the Visayas grid.

Red alert is issued over the grid when contingency reserves reach zero. It happens as the supply-to-demand balance further worsens, resulting in rotating power interruptions.

In a rather late advisory, the NGCP said it would implement Manual Load Dropping (MLD) starting at 6 p.m. in the franchise areas of MORE, GUIMELCO, ILECO 1, ILECO 2, ILECO 3, ANTECO, CAPELCO, and AKELCO as a contingency measure caused by generation deficiency.

It was projected to last until 12 midnight.

MLD Is conducted to limit the demand during a red alert or rotational brownout is implemented when the generation is insufficient or the contingency reserve is zero.

From 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., the alert status was reverted to yellow alert.

The quandary of Visayas residents went on until Friday, April 28.

The NGCP again issued an advisory of a yellow alert status from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

But hours before that, power outages hit Visayas again.

In an advisory sent on April 28, the NGCP said they monitored a system disturbance on April 27 that affected the Visayas grid.

“Initial findings show that a distribution utility-owned line tripped, and caused power plants to disengage from the transmission system. An assessment of NGCP’s facilities shows that our protection systems functioned as intended.”

It added that “while this was already addressed and restored, another system disturbance occurred at 2:57 p.m. of April 28. Initial findings show that the initiating event was the tripping of a generation facility. Similarly, an assessment of NGCP’s protection equipment shows that the transmission system functioned properly.”

It added that they are coordinating closely with the generators and distribution utilities and are working on the expeditious restoration of affected NGCP lines and facilities.

In most areas in Iloilo and Capiz, netizens claimed that power returned late evening on Friday.

However, the relief proved to be short-lived as electricity again went off after an hour.

It went on until Saturday morning.

By mid-morning, electricity went back. Again, it did not last long.

While residents complained of prolonged blackouts, an NGCP advisory said that it has restored all transmission facilities, less than 4 hours after the system disturbance was monitored at 2:56 p.m. on April 28.

“Initial investigations reveal that the system disturbance may have been triggered by generation tripping,” it added.

The NGCP said that not all of the affected power plants have successfully synchronized to the transmission system, which is the direct cause of the power interruptions some areas in the island of Panay still endure.

It added that they are in constant communication with other affected power plants and distribution utilities to ensure that, when ready, the remaining power plants are able to synchronize and provide power to transmission systems connected to distribution utilities/electric cooperatives.

As they were being bombarded by criticisms from all fronts, the NGCP said that they are “cognizant of the suffering the recent spate of power interruptions have wrought on the consumers and businesses in the provinces and cities of Panay island.”

“NGCP is tirelessly working to determine the root cause of these trippings and to provide a universal solution to restore and stabilize the power supply chain,” it said.

“While we have assessed our system for possible malfunctions, and confirmed that our protocols are working as intended, we are also exploring the possibility that adjustments need to be made along the supply chain to stabilize power in Panay. In this regard, we are working with our counterparts in the generation and distribution sectors to implement the needed adjustments on our respective protection settings, and resolve the issue soonest,” the NGCP added.


On Friday, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas of allowed all City Hall employees to take an early out due to the ongoing power outage.

“We understand that this outage is causing inconvenience and disruption at work. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as necessary,” he added.

Prior to that, Treñas said that the ongoing blackout has a significant impact on the community, including economic losses.

“It’s important for the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) to provide an explanation for these incidents. We need to understand why these happen, what is being done to resolve the issue, and what measures are being taken to prevent future outages,” he said.

The local chief executive said he already requested a face-to-face meeting with NGCP on the almost daily brownouts in the second week of May.

“I have relayed this request to Anthony Almeda of NGCP. I will request the members of the City Council, business community, MORE Power and Panay Energy Development Corp. to attend the said meeting. It will be open to the media. Cynthia Abalanza, head of NGCP’s public relations department, reached out to me to let me know they are ready to attend the meeting with the City Council and business community and members of media,” he said.

As the power outages persisted, Treñas has already called on all congressional representatives of the affected districts to heed the call of their constituents and call for a congressional investigation into the root cause of these unscheduled power interruptions.

“Our people must be satisfied with the explanations,” he said.

He also called all sectors – lawyers, doctors, businessmen, academe, religious, students, and all professionals – to join him in demanding that pertinent government officials do what they can to resolve these power problems affecting Panay, Guimaras, and parts of Negros Occidental.

“Let us all demand and file whatever is needed to get all government agencies tasked to attend to our power needs to get out of their air-conditioned offices and their air-conditioned cars and do what they are supposed to do and provide power to us – we also pay our bills no matter how expensive they are – thus, we have the right to demand proper action,” he said.

By Saturday, Treñas said he’s been in touch with MORE Power, Iloilo City’s sole power distributor, and Panay Power Corporation.

“NGCP is saying that there is nothing with the systems of the grid, Panay Power is saying there is nothing wrong with the power plants and the problem is with the grid. More power is telling me the problem is with the grid. NGCP should now study their system and see what they can do in the short term,” he said.

Without doing a proper investigation since one is not possible at this time, considering that MORE Power and PPC are both saying that NGCP is at fault, Treñas said it is now incumbent for NGCP to find ways and means to resolve the issue at the most expedient time to help Panay.

“The whole of Panay and all the people therein are most affected now,” he said.